SC Guild member on what NMG means to him — and why everyone should join

rom left, back row: Bruce Smith, Tim Rogers, Jack Jones, Tom Breen and Maryann Mrowca. Front row: Susanne Schafer, Seanna Adcox, Jim Davenport and Meg Kinnard.

The South Carolina Senate passed a resolution on Feb. 28 recognizing political reporter Jim Davenport for his “distinguished service” to South Carolina’s citizens. The resolution called Davenport “one of the most talented, influential, and admired journalists in South Carolina,” adding that he set the standard in South Carolina political coverage for current journalists and generations to come.

Jim writes to his AP colleagues:

After nearly 13 years in this house we call AP in Columbia, S.C., I’ve checked out on disability with a cancer the doctors can’t fix.

Early last year, a fall that broke six ribs, a forearm and both wrists came with the bonus discovery of cancer in my chest. The bones healed while I was on short-term disability. I returned to work and began the fight with cancer, missing just a few days during radiation and chemotherapy. I thought I had the cancer beat, but it spread to my bones.

Since December, I’ve told the doctors to just give me more meds to keep the pain down. No longer allowed to drive, I kept on for a while with my wife dropping me off and retrieving me from the Statehouse, the world’s best place to work. Where else could you spend afternoons waiting for a state treasurer’s indictment for sharing cocaine or showing the world where the Appalachian Trail runs?

Leading up to the presidential primary on Jan. 21, colleagues carted me to a couple events they were staffing. It meant the world to me. Still, the stronger pain drugs created too much risk of writing something wrong.

Under the short-term disability plan we negotiated a couple of couple of contracts ago, I got 10 weeks of full pay followed by 15 weeks of 60 percent pay. Unused sick, vacation, personal and birthday leave bumped the disability pay up to 100 percent for 25 weeks.

The old system let you accumulate sick time. You’d get full pay, then a matching period of half-pay, depending on your seniority _ but people with little seniority would go months without pay before qualifying for AP’s long-term disability policy.

Because that gap was so unfair for colleagues with little seniority, soon after joining the Guild I joined a push to offer a short-term policy more in line with what other companies offered. The result was a clear benefit for the new talent coming aboard. I’d hate for any of my younger colleagues or even grayer ones who joined the AP after years elsewhere to endure a mishap or illness soon after arriving and face no income after a couple of months. No matter how long the disability, time and money make all the difference in how you can make plans.

I’ve long appreciated the Guild, all that our leaders and members do to make the AP a better place to work, and our spirited discussions on Shoptalk.

So, now I ask one favor: If you’re not a member of the Guild, join. If you are, be active. Coming from one of the least-unionized states in the country, I don’t take for granted the privilege and camaraderie of work in a Guild-covered shop. I hope you won’t, either.